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In Rough Seas We Need A Little Help From Our Friends

WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH, WRITERS GET TOUGHER
Monthly Tough-it-Out Corner for Insecure Writers

I like to think that we (Insecure) writers have a little extra ball of energy we hold in reserve for exactly that moment when the rest of our world is collapsing or about to do so.

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as  social ease

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as social ease


Now seems a good time to remind ourselves that, however insecure we may feel about the work we continually produce—the writing we LOVE—if we continue to brave it out through any storm, the rough seas will eventually bring calm.

And we may live through it!

ENTER GRACE—Or in Aegaean terms, THREE GRACES, daughters of ZEUS and EURYNOME

In Hellenist mythology Three Goddesses called the Graces represented grace, charm and beauty. Other qualities associated with them—
Aglaia represented elegance, brightness and splendor.
Thalia embodied youth, beauty and good cheer.
Euphrosyne encouraged mirth and joyfulness.

The KHARITES were conceived in Greek mythology as goddesses who brought festive joy and enhanced mortals’ love of life though their refinement and gentleness. Gracefulness and beauty in social intercourse are attributed to them. They are usually seen in the service or attendance of other divinities, as real joy exists only in circles where the individual gives up his own self and makes it his main object to afford pleasure to others.

“The less beauty is ambitious to rule, the greater is its victory”

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

Qualities embodied in the Kharites. Graces, are that the less homage beauty or grace demands, the more freely is it given.

Interestingly, these same traits were imported en masse into the Christian ethic and named Hope, Faith and Charity—from Gk.KHARITES—Catholicism in particular emphasizing ‘charity’.

I mention these lovely beauties at this time as, in the midst of world events where ladies’ sovreignty is paramount, it may be our GRACE which will see us through the storm.

Moving Beyond the Masque to Face Reality
Also, coincidentally in traditional Roman Catholic calendar—still calculated by the Moon—we have only just emerged from the Fire Festival of Fat Tuesday—Mardi Gras—Festern’s E’en. We are now entering a time of human restriction—in Church timing 40 days of Lent—where our resources and resourcefulness will be called on.

We IWSG-ers know how to pull in our belts, don’t we? If our Cap’n.Alex can do it, so can we.

Therefore, Angels of Grace, Beauty, Patience, bless you—we are calling for just a little help from our friends. Thank you for being here.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

March 1, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, art, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, history, Muse, pre-Christian, ritual, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Crop Circle season: Royal Fever or Beltane Ghosts?

Bosschenhoofd, Netherlands, Easter Sunday 2011

The English crop circle season still shows no authentic signs! But there were two appearances over Easter: one in the Netherlands and one in Wales.

Last year, 2010, spring in Britain was ‘late’, as it followed the previous winter’s heavy freeze; so the first crop circle to emerge did not occur in the month of April, but on May 5th (Old Beltane), in alignment with an ancient sacred stronghold (and site of the first Salisbury cathedral) at Old Sarum. Its appearance was eagerly awaited by the crop circle community because the earliest farming crop to start into flower –oil seed rape, canola– was only just out of the ‘green’ stage. Previous years had brought early ripening and, by comparison, the 2010 season had a lot to make up for.

So, it seems, does the summer of 2011. A repeat winter freeze, (human) standstill and a gradual earth-warm-up and then, bam, an April ‘heatwave’. Easter Sunday, April 24th, was the warmest April day in Britain since 1949: the month of April the warmest since records began 100 years ago. Last week, the British geared up for the Royal Wedding and the weather was playing along nicely. So, it might seem, is the sense of humour of the crop circlemakers: Prince William (Wales and Windsor) married on Friday, while one week previously, on Good Friday, the first canola circle appeared in South Wales.

Canola is a plant of the brassica family which often signals the start of the crop circle season, because in Britain nothing else (barley, wheat, maize) is anywhere near its ripening stage at the end of April.

There have been exceptions. Unusually, in 2010 a Somerset bean crop was used on June 7th at Stony Littleton longbarrow near Bath to showcase the double spiral of a traditional clock mechanism, as if perhaps to highlight the concept –or urgency– of time.

Gwent Good Friday crop circle, Severn Bridge, Chepstow, photo courtesy Olivier Morel

Then, lo and behold, the first Dutch formation –on Easter Sunday morning– at Bosschenhoofd, 22 miles South of Rotterdam, appeared in grass.

April dates that heralded the start of a British season in three previous years had already passed–April 15, 19 and 17 for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. The weather in England has been heating up fast, however, so it was a relief when the first crop circle of this season appeared over the Easter weekend –not in Wiltshire amid the sacred landscape of ancient Saxon heritage– but in an even older landscape with genuine Brittonic origins: Gwent, where this most ancient race has left evidence of human settlement since Mesolithic times.

Coincidentally–the Circlemakers are great on synchronicity–the tight little formation appeared at Innage farm near Chepstow, a stone’s throw across the Severn Bridge from the Oldbury nuclear power plant which featured in a crop image last July and which (with less publicity) vented radioactive steam one month ago, frightening already anxious residents on both sides of the river. Public concern was quelled by nuclear authority spokesmen after locals were understandably alarmed at the announcement of new ‘works’ planned for the nuclear facility, despite the awful and uncontrollable meltdown continuing in Fukushima, Japan after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

The new Welsh design, in a field of oil seed rape, lies only seven miles southwest of the spectre of last season’s remarkable formation –the July 18th ‘quake-vibration’ crop circle at Woolaston Grange, Gloucestershire. While lying on the same (Welsh) side of the Severn, the 2010 ‘ghost’ technically lies in England, but it also faces diagonally across the river to the nuclear plant. Between the two lies the ancient stronghold of Caes-Gwent, ‘castle of Gwent’, modern Chepstow.

Roman 'Venta', rebuilt in 1069, Castle Gwent-over-Wye is the oldest extant stone building in Britain

In an historical context, Chepstow’s Welsh name, Caes Gwent, castle of Venta, Roman ‘market place’, shows how ancient are its roots and how significant is its position on the confluence of the river Wye (over which the 11thC Castle of Gwent still towers) with the Severn –that great tidal estuary which eventually flows into the Bristol Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the southern heartland of the ancient (pre-Celtic) Brythonic kingdom, where ancient Britons spoke a dialect understood by other Britons of Prydein –Roman Britannia. Their language was understood over the water-bridge in Brittany, throughout Cornwall, Isle of Man, Rheged (ancient Cumbria), Dumbarton and Strathclyde (Dun-Britton), Brigantia (Yorkshire and Northumberland) and northern Pictland (Prydein). Their ancient monuments, aligned with the movements of the heavens and dedicated to their ancestral dead, were generations older than Stonehenge. Avebury’s great circle is their nearest relative in design and in time.

Once again, bang on time, the crop circle phenomenon has drawn to our attention an ancient landscape–full of sacred detail and priceless earthbound wisdom– almost totally forgotten in the 21st century.

But the Circlemakers display yet more layers to enlighten us.

Four-petal lotus of the root/base chakra in the Gwent crop circle, 23rd April 2011

Another coincidence can be seen in the Chepstow design’s similarity to the four-petalled lotus of the Muladhara, the red-hued base chakra design which kicked off the 2011 January season in Sleman, Yogyakarta, Java. At that time, a statement from the Sultanate warned the Javanese–the world’s most populous Muslim country, already steeped in shared knowledge of kundalini and the significance of chakras in the energy body, borrowed from Hindu belief–that the appearance of the ‘base chakra’ presaged

“Nature’s selections (i.e. acts of God) in this country shortly”
HRH Prince Karyonagoro (Kandjeng Pangeran) January 2011.

In Vedic Kundalini the red base chakra is the lowest, most physically-driven, of the body’s energy centres. In recent years many crop circles and spiritual groups have been emphasizing the need for us, the human race, to rise above physicality and elevate ourselves at least through the second and third to the level of the (green) fourth heart-chakra, in order to prepare ourselves for our anticipated move –along with the planet Earth– into fifth-dimensional reality, nirvana, a permanent state of bliss or Ascension.

With the exception of the ‘message’ Crop designs at Crabwood Farm August 2002, Circlemakers do not usually leave us specific directions. They use hints, fractals, energy mosaics, pointers and clues to a mystery which we –in wracking our braincells and stirring up our DNA– seem to delight in trying to solve.

Gwent seems to be hinting…

It is interesting to note that the combination Muslim-Hindu population of Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland) has doubled in ten years, from 1.5million in 2001 to around 3 million in 2011; and outside of Leicester and Harrow, the predominant residential city-satellites for Hindu and Muslim peoples with Indian subcontinent roots (within commuting distance of London on M4 and M48) include Cardiff and Chepstow-on-Wye.

As the Circlemakers are known for their sense of humour, they might just be saying that we, the people of the British Isles, despite introduced Vedic wisdom and several seasons of implicit teachings and clues from crop circle mentors, are–in consciousness–still psychically hanging out around our own base chakra, i.e. our heads are still up our kundalini tail.

Judging by recent seasons, May 1st (Beltane) appears to be the seasonal cut-off date. Beltane means earth festival bigtime for the Circlemakers. Buddhist Wesak celebrates the Buddha’s birth on the first full moon of the Taurus cycle (this year May 17th). But May also means the Baal fire ritual of the Ancients. Once again we are being reminded (implicitly) how our ancient Brittonic ancestors valued –nay, worshipped– the sacred return of Light in the full blossoming of May Day, Beltane, with the Earth’s rise in fertility, the blossoming of trees and flowers, the Earth Mother’s return to full growth and potency. Beltane was more than just a fire festival at 15ºTaurus, the mid-point of the growth season; it was a celebration of renewal and a belief for all Mankind that the Earth was capable once again of overcoming death, dying, winter, moving through budding of new growth into full-blown summer and supreme joy of life.

It is this ancient practice, once a sacred belief system held by our pre-Christian Brittonic ancestors–kept alive in some Druidic and Wiccan traditions so often ridiculed by modern skeptics–that the crop circles seek to remind us: Life is not dead. We and the Earth are alive.

Eight/Infinity crop circle with central lovers-knot, Milk Hill 08-08-08

Looking back, it is easy to spot this recurring theme. The decade of the 1990s had marked a gradual trend towards an earlier start to the season in April; remarkably, 1999 began on April 3rd! But by contrast, the first half of the ‘noughties was marked by late beginnings–mid-May (2001, 2005), even early June (2002, 2003, 2004 & 2006). 2009 began on time (first crop circle on The Ridgway near Avebury/West Overton on April 17th. In 2008, April 19th marked the beginning with a six-armed spiral at Waden Hill, Avebury. It was also the year of the bee (at Honey Street, no less) on July 27th; the first year crop circles were confirmed in the USA and Brazil; and, with synchronicity we are coming to expect, the famous ‘Eight’/Infinity formation which on 08-08-08 graced Milk Hill, Alton Barnes.

Milk Hill June 2009 crop circle overlay on 08-08-08 ghost

Circles arrived even earlier in 2007, with the Oliver’s Castle seven-arcs on April 15th. 2007 was famous for its ‘Om’ design of 07-07-07–at East Field. This remarkable formation began a trend in croppie thinking of assigning special meaning to specific numerical sequences: a simple form of numerology or gematria. That said, 2006 was a disappointment to many who waited until 21st May for the first sign in East Sussex. According to crop-prophet Freddy Silva, that year was atypical because it was jinxed by a high number of ‘hoax’ cropcircles. By contrast, it was famous for its first-time 3D-special effects formations. They have been entrancing us ever since.

The Measure of a Man and of an Angel will be the same in the New Jerusalem
Revelation of John 21: 17

Wayland's Smithy '12 Towers' crop circle, reminiscent of the blades of a combine harvester, arrived 08-07-06, photo courtesy Steve Alexander

The world’s first 3D design at Wayland’s Smithy, Oxfordshire, left, –combination skyscraper-overhead, 12-towers and Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagram–appeared July 8th 2006: 06-07-08. Its proximity to Wayland’s Smithy neolithic burial chamber is not accidental, as it implies a connection between the ancient Saxon god of metalworking and the future of the human race being forged now. The British–as mythologist Barbara Clow has stated bluntly–are not exactly known for their knowledge of their own sacred beginnings. She implies (the reality of) America as a God-fearing race; while the British have no tolerance for the sacred. Many of the most emphatic crop markings of recent years have emphasized this lack of sensitivity to our ancient wisdom and essence of the sacred. Designs have increasingly been sited in close proximity to primeval sacred sites or places of ancient wisdom whose meaning and context have, in general, been studiously ignored.

The Twelve Towers, as the Waylands formation became known, has been likened by crop circle veteran Joseph Mason to the final reckoning of the New Jerusalem in the Revelation of John: Jerusalem was said to measure 12×12=144 cubits, a sacred number meaning ‘Light’, often represented by the cube. His exposition is worth reading for its incisive content and extreme intuition. Wayland’s inate spiraling form has reappeared many times since that year, as a kind of reminder of its End-of-Days message. One also sees in it the ‘Rose Diagram’ of Florence Nightingale–the first time a woman effectively cured an epidemic by alerting the medical community (and the world) to iatrogenic deaths in foul hospital conditions in the Crimea. She made her presentation via a diagram her superiors could visualize, and her visual method changed the way humanity looked at health. In that sense the crop circle message may be our own health warning, an alert that our world may now be in imminent danger, as a result of our own pollution of earth’s fragile systems.

2006 may have been an odd year — no crop circle 06-06-06; a short season that ended abruptly on August 14th. But it did deliver some amazing pieces of inter-dimensional wonder. And from that year onwards, the world croppie audience began sitting up and paying attention.

Seasons come and go and we are learning to expect bigger and more explicit messages. What surfaces above all is the sense of wonder they impart, to thousands who have never actually sat in one or experienced the sense of ‘community’ they intuitively bring to the fields. Many have only seen them from above: the photographic message, shared so willingly and selflessly by dedicated crop circle pilots and photographers and website volunteers. In a gentle, unobtrusive way, it seems that the symbols in the fields are encouraging us to reconnect with our own sense of community–and our own sacred selves.


Vibration and Frequency and Form

All matter is in essence a group of particles vibrating at a common frequency, (a current scientific theory) and it is understandable that we human beings, made up of particles vibrating at a certain frequency, are affected by other vibrating particles–positive or negative–depending on the interaction.

This is inkeeping with current spiritual group ethos: raise your vibration to create your own mastery. The idea resonates well with the crop circles. Some see them as ‘temporary temples‘ for a modern age that has lost its sense of the Sacred. As huge, geometric temples, they seem to inspire our psyche towards wonder, a higher sense of reality and awareness. It is documented that many people feel compelled to enter formations in the fields from quite a distance away, and afterwards describe feelings of peace and wellbeing while inside the ‘sacred’ space. Many attest to lives profoundly changed in some capacity–psychologically or spiritually– by the experience.

Savernake forest 'wormholes', July 6th, 2006, photo courtesy Steve Alexander

Over the years it has become commonplace for circle visitors to experience an energetic ‘flow’ within its precinct. Video cameras malfunction, batteries suddenly go dead, compasses fluctuate wildly. The electromagnetic field which circles produce has been likened by some dowsers, empaths and sensitives to the static they feel inside the oldest stone circles. Again, it seems synchronistic that the crop circles and the stone circles of Wiltshire and North Britain share a mystical connection in location, effect on ground water and subsoil. Samples taken for scientific analysis by non-profit agencies such as BLT Research confirm this. In 1980 the Dragon Project measured a miraculous surge of radiation within the precinct of Rollright Stones, Oxon at the moment of sunrise. Stonehenge visitors (for midsummer sunrise) confirm similar rises in energy. Both these stone circles are reasonably complete in construction. By contrast, dowsers who have visited ‘restored’ stone circles –a notorious one in Aberdeenshire at Strichen–experience sickness and have to leave because of the disruptive energy fields created by misaligned or substituted stones of the ‘wrong’ geological composition. It seems our Neolithic ancestors had a sense of ‘knowing’ where to place stone circles on the earth’s electromagnetic nodes–and within widely electrically-conductive aquifers of chalk or limestone– it worked like a dream.

In the magical situation created by an overnight crop sensation arriving via light, heat and sound in a ripening field, the essence of electromagnetic currents seem to be retained by the very bounds of the design’s circumference. According to BLT’s research, only gradually over a period of days–probably with traffic generated by visitors along paths leading in and out–does the energy level dissipate. There are some field formations where the energy appears so potent that its influence lingers not only through the winter after harvest, but, remarkably, for several subsequent seasons.

… as a ghostly reminder of what once was…
These are the famous crop circle ‘ghosts’.

Silbury Hill 2010: crop spectre of 2009 'Beetle' ghost

It was standard archaeological procedure throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to try to examine (from the air, via balloon and subsequently from helicopter or light plane) any area of ‘archaeological significance’ where it was suspected there might have been structures on or below ground which had been ‘lost’ in modern development, carelessness or just plain ignorance. In the (hot) summers of 1949, 1976 and 1996 major advances were made and documentary evidence added to British archives of ancient sites where structures showed up in the dry landscapes of a few arid summer months as ‘cropmarks’. Little did the archaeologists know then that something similar would become the focus of world attention in the second decade of the next millennium which would give an altogether different meaning to the expression ‘crop formation’. It is this ephemeral ‘ghost’ –an appearance within the soil itself after all vestigial reality of structure or form has been removed– which the crop circles have in common with some neolithic (and mesolithic) structures. The vibration of the form itself creates a lingering impression in the earth which –under certain conditions– can be witnessed once more. The spectre of the form lives again.

It is not just their physical form which has a remarkable effect on the humans attracted to enter crop circles. Their ghosts do as well. And, seen from the air –as we are now treated to, courtesy of the generosity of volunteers like Olivier Morel, above– crop circles are making their mark on the civilized world.

It may still be considered an ‘alternative’ world, a ‘loopy fringe’ by some, but even the media is coming around to the idea that the human race is jointly heading for some kind of quantum leap –either this year or next.

We are being treated to something in accelerated time: a reminder by Spirit of the Sacred which many of us seem to have forgotten. It is something quite wonderful, infinitely fulfilling and much needed, in order to bring our lives back into some kind of perspective. Because it is a little beyond our grasp, there is a thrill associated with this achievement. And it is well overdue.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ascension, astronomy, crop circles, culture, popular, Prehistory, sacred geometry, sacred sites, seasonal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fire Festivals & Persistence of Pasche

Carnival in Rio before Lent

‘First come Candlemas
Syne the New Meen
The niest Tiseday efter that
Is Festern’s E’en.
That Meen oot
An’ anither at its hicht
The niest Sunday efter that
Is aye Pasche richt.’
Ancient Scots Easter calculation. Anon.

The Calendar according to the Moon was regular as clockwork. It was reliable, you could see it in the sky and you could set your life rhythms by it. The old Scots rhyme above spoken slowly will make sense even to the least son of the soil of Ultima Thule. But non-Scots may need a little help in translation.

Festern’s E’en – as Hallowe’en – was an ancient calendar fire festival celebrated, like all pre-Christian revelry, at night. And, like Hallowe’en, it still is. Only we call it by another name: Carnival.

Translated simply, it is the evening before the ‘Feast/Festival’. With a capital F, this celebration was one of the greatest fire festivals in the Celtic Year. When it became absorbed into the Christian calendar, its importance and significance to the populace was so great, that it was deemed necessary to give it a place of prominence second only to Christmas. As such it has remained. The festival that precedes Easter is throughout the world celebrated with fire and puppetry,processional and masqued balls, dance and music and food and drink.

If you ask a South American about Carnival, ‘Carnaval’ in Portuguese, he will tell you they prepare for it all year round. In some cultures it has become almost more important than Christmas – a reversion to type, backtracking to pre-Christian times.


In Brazil, it makes complete sense to hold Carnaval precisely on its February moon date in the ancient calendar because in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires it is full-blown summer. By contrast, German Fasching, held similarly in February, is pretty chilly dancing in the noctural streets of northern Hamburg!

Terence Young's 'Thunderball' James Bond in 1965


Carnival used to be held in the Bahamas in February too, when spring is at its height and the casuarinas blow carefree along Nassau Beach. But in the summer of 1965, Chubby Broccoli and Sean Connery made a James Bond film set on Paradise Island and commissioned the Carnival Committee to stage an ‘extra’ Carnival, so they could weave festive fiery scenes into ‘Thunderball’; since then Bahamian Carnival has been a summertime festival.

London's Notting Hill Carnival

Similarly, the London Carnival of Notting Hill, begun in 1964, is held on the last weekend in August. No connection to Lent or Easter any more.

But originally, before the Gregorian calendar took over calculation and reckoning by the moon in 1582, Carnival was high festive season in that ancient stream of festivities used by Man to celebrate the return of the Light to a dark winter world.

Candlemas, as I’ve mentioned before, is the first glimpse of light waxing and adding grace to the darkest days of winter. On February 2nd – or Bride’s Day, before solar months took over as calendrical norm – the measure of light from the heavens increases to such a degree that birds begin to mate, petals on spring flowers open and the Earth softens its frozen grip.

In lunar terms, the first New Moon of the second month (Gregorian) was celebrated in every northern hemisphere culture planet-wide from prehistoric times. From Buddhist to Inuit culture the return of light to nurture the earth’s crucial growing plants was a calendar custom worth celebrating.

When Christian calendar calculators were devising Roman Church high and holy days, they took care to incorporate these ancient fire rites as an integral part of Christian culture and ‘lore’. it did not do to lose a single ‘soul’ in the transition from a pre-Christian to a Christian world.

And, as it was a long-standing tradition for local people to mark ancient quarter days – the solstices and the equinoxes – with festivals of fire, it seemed right that they should transit unaltered into the Christian calendar: marked instead with candlelight inside church buildings.

Christmas was chosen at the time of (northern) winter solstice when the ‘ignorant’ (pagan) desperately needed to celebrate the return of ‘light to the world’. Christ was called the ‘Light of the World’. The Son of the Sun.

Midsummer was fully taken up with a light celebration of its own – in northern latitudes the longest days of the year brought bountiful harvest and genuine thanksgiving by a rural population for the gifts of the earth continuously provided from midsummer through to Lammas, an August ‘cross-quarter’ day. No Church overlay was necessary; nevertheless Roman Catholicism superimposed the feast of John the Baptist on midsummer’s day and frowned heavily on pagan corn dollies and such Celtic fripperies perpetuated by an agricultural society.

The Equinoxes, however, required more serious contemplation.

Most rural (so-called ignorant) converts were aware of the movement of both sun and moon. While that may appear to us today to be rather sophisticated intellectual knowledge, it was commonplace then to note changing seasons, hours of light and dark and the phases of the moon. When equinox arrived it was – in the human mind at least – a miracle that every place on earth had exactly the same number of hours of light and dark for one earth period of 24 hours. The sun rose at 6 and set at 6 on every man, woman, child and beast on earth. The phenomenon was in itself worth celebrating. In astronomical terms, the event occurs precisely at the moment the Sun (traveling along the ecliptic) appears to cross the celestial equator, and while ancient Man may not have known that added sophistication, his life was changed by its occurrence twice in every year. In addition, he celebrated the spring (cross-quarter) festivals of Wesak, Beltane, May Day, along with any events providing an excuse for Morris and maypole dancing, The Church allowed these to continue, so long as the requisite saints were also remembered and offerings given.

While Archangel Michael was given dominion over autumnal equinox, Easter was chosen as a fitting ‘high’ celebration to take over the vernal equinoctial light-and-dark balance.

What put a spanner in the works was that – late in the seventh century – when two contemporary Christian systems were running alongside in mutual cooperation, the internal systems within the Celtic and Roman Churches came to a clash; an impasse.

Venerable Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'

Hugely influential, powerful and wealthy King Oswiu of Northumbria had been happy to run his Christian nation along the lines of Columba’s Celtic (thirteen-month lunar) calendar issued and maintained from Iona. This Celtic doctrine conveniently recognized the King as head of religious affairs. His Anglian Queen Eanfled, a devout Roman Christian recognized not the King but the Pope as head of the Church. They might have reconciled their differences, had it not been for a calendrical anomaly which in some years had the King ordering huge feasts for Easter at exactly the moment when his Queen was still fasting in Lent. Because another such year was due to happen in AD665, with the assistance of Wilfrid, new abbot at Rippon, and recently returned from Gaul and Rome, the King called the Synod of Whitby in AD664 and led a thorough investigation into the rites and rituals of both systems. The event is described in detail by Jarrow churchman Bede (673-735) who completed his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731.

While the Synod changed lives, split families and royal houses, even intra-kingdom alliances, thereafter church festivities centred on Easter were standardized throughout the land and celebrated in accordance with Roman custom.

Easter remained the highest festival of the Christian church until the Scots Reformation when (after 1660) presbyterian austerity superimposed simplicity, reduced dogma and a return to ‘speaking to God’ directly.

For the rest of the British Isles, however, and for descendants and dependents the world over, Easter remains one of the great festivals of the Christian calendar.

Curiously, for a celebration washed, ironed and folded so neatly by successive synthesized systems – prehistoric, early-historic, pre-Christian, Celtic and Roman Christian – Easter emerges as a supreme highlight in the Church year.

Its one concession to its pagan past is that is remains to this day a date fixed according to the Moon.

And, in order not to offend other faiths which, like Anglian Eanfled, might take offence at the bulldozing approach (e.g. Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch trials), there is a built-in mechanism of calculation which ensures that Easter and Passover never collide and that the Christian High Festival should never occur BEFORE equinox.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, bead capital of the world

So the little rhyme above, translated, simple enough and sympathetic to Scots ears, sums up global lead-time to Pasque, Pasche, Oster/Easter, the pagan event of maiden-goddess Eostre/Ostara, the Highest Festival in the Christian Calendar: when in the High Days before the Fast of Lent, the Roman Catholic world celebrates. From Italian Carnivale to German Fasching (Fastnacht, the eve before the Fast), prelude to French Pasque, in Portuguese Carnaval and on ‘Fat Tuesday’ of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, bead-festooned feasters and revellers make merry because tomorrow their stomachs will die.

The modern gesture to Pancake or Shrove or Fat Tuesday (Festern’s E’en) is not lost on marketers for supermarket chains who do a roaring trade in maple syrup and readymix batter. It’s the ‘stock up while the going’s good’ mentality, because the body must endure the subsequent fast of Lent for a regulation 40 days. Once more the Roman Church succeeded in condensing multiple events in Christ’s life into one festival: this fast represents the period of time He spent without food while meditating in the desert.

Nowadays, nobody questions that its immediate successor in the calendar is representational of His death and resurrection, when historically the two events happened years apart. Once again, ancient symbolism is used to gloss over detail.

‘First arrives Candlemas (Feast of Bride); Then the New Moon
The following Tuesday will be ‘Fastnacht’/Fasching or Shrove Tuesday
Allow that ‘moon’ to wax and wane
And watch till the next moon is full
The Sunday thereafter will be Easter Day.’
translation by Scots descendant, non-Anon

It worked for King Oswiu in 664. I can assure you, the calculation works still!

©2010 Marian Youngblood

March 8, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, astrology, astronomy, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, festivals, history, pre-Christian, Prehistory, ritual, seasonal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments